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El Pollo Loco Testing Drone Delivery


Look … up in the sky. It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s a. … Wait! It is a bird! As in fire-grilled chicken.

El Pollo Loco Inc, a Costa Mesa, Calif.-based fire-grilled chicken restaurant chain, said it will become the first national restaurant company to test door-to-backyard drone delivery. The quick-service restaurant company said the test-and-learn pilot of its drone delivery service, which begins June 24, is the continuation of its digital evolution and focus on customer experience. It’s called Air Loco.

“We’re highly encouraged by the evolution of our digital flywheel and continued enhancement of the strategies we put in place last year,” El Pollo Loco President and CEO Bernard Acoca said. “We look forward to further growth on the heels of our record-breaking 250% increase in delivery performance in 2020.”

El Pollo Loco is launching the pilot with Tel Aviv-based drone startup Flytrex, which manufactures and operates automated drones that cruise at 32 miles per hour without traffic or other impediments and use a wire release mechanism to gently lower food orders from 80 feet.

“El Pollo Loco continues to explore new and innovative delivery services that offer our customers added quality and convenience, and the Air Loco drone delivery pilot program is our latest effort to unlock fresh options for getting our fire-grilled chicken to hungry customers everywhere — piping hot and in perfect condition,” El Pollo Loco Vice President of Digital Andy Rebhun said. “We want to offer drone food deliveries that are fast, convenient and safe. The insights gleaned during this test-and-learn pilot will play a crucial role in helping us shape this exciting new service ahead of its rollout.”

The Air Loco drone is also outfitted with a fastened delivery box that keeps orders intact, which means customers will receive food packed in El Pollo Loco’s new Thermo-to-Go packaging in a fraction of the time it would take for a conventional delivery to arrive. During the pilot, a select number of El Pollo Loco’s loyal Loco Rewards members in Southern California will be recipients of the first fire-grilled flights, and will have the Air Loco drone gently lower their food orders from high above their homes.

El Pollo Loco is known for its “L.A. Mex food,” a blend of traditional Mexican cuisine and better-for-you eating. Since 1980, El Pollo Loco has opened more than 480 company-owned and franchised restaurants in Arizona, California, Nevada, Texas, Utah and Louisiana.